Auto manufacturing is gearing up to enter the 3D printing world. Ford Motors announced this week that it is testing using 3D printing to produce large car parts for prototypes and production vehicles with the Stratasys Infinite Build 3D Printer.
The goal is to see how 3D printing can assist in manufacturing and help fuel efficiency through lighter car parts.
According to Ford, here’s how it works:
With 3D printing, specifications for a part are transferred from the computer-aided design program to the printer’s computer, which analyzes the design. The device then goes to work, printing one layer of material at a time, then gradually stacking layers into a finished 3D object.
When the system detects the raw material or supply material canister is empty, a robotic arm automatically replaces it with a full canister. This allows the printer to operate unattended for hours – days, even.
At this time, 3D printing is not fast enough to keep up on a production line, but it is possible that using it to produce personalized car parts could be of great benefit to Ford customers.
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